By Faith Stewart
In the next few blog posts, we will be talking about a more holistic approach to wellness. We will discuss sleeping and eating habits and this post will cover the impact of exercise on stress and depression.
We’ve all heard “exercise is good for you,” and most of us can list several physical benefits of exercise. In truth, however, the benefits of physical activity go way beyond maintaining healthy weight and lowering blood pressure.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), approximately 40 million American adults are affected by an anxiety disorder and 22 million are affected by a depressive disorder. This means that there is good chance that a few people reading this may fall into one of those categories, even those people who do not have a diagnosis have experienced anxiety or depression to some extent at some point in life. Because of that, it is important to know how valuable exercise can be in reducing these troubling feelings.
Many studies have been done on the effect of exercise on the symptoms of anxiety and depression. These studies have shown that due to the release of endorphins during a bout of physical activity (be it structured exercise or play), anxious and depressed feelings are immediately reduced (ADAA). Additionally, these studies have shown that regular physical activity improves the self-perceived quality of life in individuals who previously reported low quality of life.
Wellness is about more than being physically fit. Wellness includes mental health and emotional health, as well. It is important that we focus on all aspects of wellness while we are working to improve physical fitness.